Overnight Sensation

For employees at boutique hotels, dowdy polyester uniforms just won’t do

At the new Thompson Beverly Hills, the allure of stark, wood-lined rooms with hanging chrome lamps would be ruined if bellhops were wearing dowdy polyester uniforms. So owner Jason Pomeranc hired L.A. designer Jenni Kayne and celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe to create outfits for the employees of his latest boutique hotel (he runs the Hollywood Roosevelt and owns the New York hotel 60 Thompson, among others). Pool boys wear polo shirts and Bermuda shorts, cocktail waitresses are in lace minidresses, and bellmen sport canvas slacks and button-down shirts with epaulets. It stamps the property with not just a crisp ’60s imprint but name designers, just as Dodd Mitchell puts a cool, modern look—and name—on the hotel’s interiors. “Uniforms should be done with the same attention to detail as your restaurant, lobby, and front desk,” says Pomeranc. Kayne outfitted some of the female staff in empire-waist dresses with small bubble hems (not voluminous bubble dresses, which would attract martini spills at the membership-only rooftop lounge). “I had to think,” says Kayne, “about how someone can attach a walkie-talkie to her uniform without weighing down the silk fabric.” Last year Pomeranc bought Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses in an exclusive shade of brown for waitresses at Teddy’s in the Roosevelt. Since then other hoteliers have caught on to the trend: The Peninsula Hotel’s spa staff wear pants and sweater sets in beige with blue piping by St. John, and female Sofitel employees are outfitted in gray pin-striped dresses with matching scarves by the French designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. But are fashiony uniforms too hip for a hotel’s own good? After a trial run with Ted Baker-designed ensembles at the Sunset Tower, owner Jeff Klein reverted to more standard suits and polo shirts for his barmen and bellhops. Says Klein, “The staff looked so chic, everyone thought they were fellow guests.”


Earth Quake
There’s respite for those of us who nearly broke our ankles on winter’s platforms and wedges. Call it the back-to-the-Earth-shoe movement: Chunky, antifashion sandals have hotfooted it into style. They may cause those who remember their ’70s popularity to groan, but trend seekers are warming to this alternative to sling-backs and flip-flops, dyed in spring’s big color: red. Among the blasts from the past rereleased this season: the Ava (1) platform sandal in “Campari” by Kork-Ease ($175 at La Chaussure, Malibu, 310-456-8278), the Portofino (2) in “Rosso” by Earth ($129 at Lorin, Santa Monica, 310-394-3850), and the Arizona (3) in “Strawberry Birko-Flor” by Birkenstock ($69.95 at birkenstockusa.com).

Photographs: Juliette Borda (top), Maryellen Baker (bottom)